Libmonster ID: JP-1263
Author(s) of the publication: N. NIKOLAEV

WHAT IS BEHIND THE DESIRE OF THE COUNTRY OF THE RISING SUN TO STRENGTHEN ITS POSITION IN THE AFGHAN DIRECTION?

Despite the fact that Japan and Afghanistan are separated by many thousands of kilometers, official Tokyo has long considered the Afghan direction one of the most important in its foreign policy, considering it as a testing ground for testing its own ideas in the field of resolving regional conflicts.

Adhering in official statements to the line of full support for the efforts of the "6+2" Troupe (Russia, the United States, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) to unblock the situation in Afghanistan, the Japanese for a long time focused on their own strategy in Afghan affairs. The main reason for this position was that Tokyo did not fully trust the" 6+2 " Troupe, pessimistically assessing its chances of success, since individual members of the Group, as the Japanese rightly believe, were and are on different sides of the Afghan conflict.

A SHORT-SIGHTED BET ON THE TALIBAN

Given the limited ethnic base of the Northern Alliance, where, as is well known, Tajiks predominate and Pashtun influence is small, the Japanese did not place any serious bets on it, but focused their foreign policy efforts on ensuring the "constructive involvement" of the Taliban in the negotiation process with other warring parties. At the same time, serious attention was paid to working with Pakistan in order to use its opportunities to influence the Taliban. At one time, the Japanese actively promoted the idea of organizing a peace conference in Tokyo on the settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan with the participation of all parties involved in the conflict, where it was supposed to work out a general final formula for resolving the Afghan conflict. However, they did not achieve the desired success here: a full-scale conference was never organized, and meetings of representatives of the warring parties held repeatedly in Tokyo at the preparatory stages often ran into excessive demands and claims of the Taliban, which nullified all the plans of the Japanese.

The low effectiveness of the Japanese policy in resolving conflicts was largely due to the lack of experience in foreign policy work in Afghanistan, poor knowledge of the specifics of this country, and lack of ties with local communities. Tokyo clearly failed to correctly calculate the strategy of the Taliban: the latter, controlling a significant part of the country's territory, did not seek peace, which meant for them the need to share power with other political forces, but only wanted to profitably use the time to accumulate political, military and financial resources to strengthen themselves in the country "seriously and for a long time."

Since the beginning of 2001, Japanese policy in Afghanistan has been changing rapidly. The "stalling" of Tokyo's independent attempts to bring all the warring parties to the negotiating table has become increasingly obvious. In addition, the image of the Taliban themselves in Japanese society has sharply deteriorated. In particular, the barbaric destruction of ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan Province caused sharp condemnation, including in the political establishment of Japan, further narrowing the field for Tokyo's diplomatic maneuver in the Afghan direction.

After the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, a new stage began in this direction of Japanese foreign policy. On September 12, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sent a message to US President George W. Bush expressing the full support of the American president in his intention to find and punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks. During an emergency press conference on September 19, Koizumi outlined the main directions of Japanese assistance to the American anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister said that the self-defense forces of Japan will provide transport and medical support for American troops, conduct intelligence gathering in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, Japan's intention to provide economic assistance to India and Pakistan in helping Afghan refugees was emphasized.

In record time, a package of bills was passed through the country's parliament, creating a legal framework for the operations of the" self-defense forces " of Japan for the supply, transport and maintenance of American troops, as well as for the search and rescue of military personnel participating in the anti-terrorist operation. Later, the Japanese Government developed a special action plan in this area. For the first time in the post-war years, the armed forces were granted the right to operate outside the country and protect American military bases in Japan.*


* For more information, see I. Latyshev. Japanese destroyers entered the Indian Ocean, "Asia and Africa Today", 2002, N 2.

page 11


Special diplomatic efforts were aimed at securing broad ideological support for American military action among Islamic countries. Special envoys of the Japanese Prime Minister visited Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and a number of other countries, where they strongly emphasized the non-directionality of the US operation against the entire Islamic world. In addition, the Japanese responded to the American call to cut off the financing channels of terrorist organizations. On September 21, the Japanese government issued a decree prohibiting any financial transactions through Japanese banks to 165 individuals and 5 legal entities associated with Osama bin Laden.

With its solid experience in holding international economic forums, Tokyo has sought to use its usual financial levers to solve political problems - in this case, in the Afghan direction. For the first time, the Japanese announced their intention to hold such a conference during the meeting of Deputy Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers under the chairmanship of the United States and Japan on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, held on November 20, 2001 in Washington.

An international conference on post - conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan was held in Tokyo on January 21-22 this year. It was attended by 61 countries and 21 international organizations. The total amount of financial assistance pledged by donor States to Afghanistan reached a record high of $ 4.5 billion, of which $ 1.8 billion will be allocated by the end of 2002. Japan's donor contribution is set at $ 500 million, while the Japanese have identified such areas as refugee returns, mine clearance, education, health care, and increasing the role of women in society as priorities.

Although the Tokyo Action Plan, which was vigorously promoted by the Japanese, was not adopted as a result of this representative forum, the international conference on post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan, given the record high level of aid declared by donors, can be considered as an undoubted success of Japanese diplomacy.

Nevertheless, the results of the Tokyo Conference also presented the Japanese with very difficult problems that they will have to solve in the near future. First, as the organizer of this international forum, Tokyo automatically assumed the heavy burden of responsibility for the practical implementation of the agreements reached there, primarily in terms of the full implementation by donors of their obligations under the declared amounts of assistance. Here, the Japanese will have to make sure, on the one hand, that the use of funds allocated by the international community by the Afghan authorities is strictly targeted (and this is almost impossible, given the Afghan traditions), and on the other hand, that some of the donors are not too keen on using aid to realize their own long-term political and economic interests in Afghanistan. The Japanese have repeatedly stressed that the start of massive financial assistance to the reconstruction of Afghanistan is possible only after the final political settlement in this country, when the interim administration will give way to permanent authorities formed as a result of the convocation of the Loya Jirga. Tokyo's cautious approach to fulfilling its obligations to provide financial assistance to Afghanistan was also reflected in the delay in sending a team of specialists from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to Kabul, which was supposed to determine the specific parameters of this assistance on the spot.

Nevertheless, Tokyo's diplomatic activity in organizing a conference on post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan indicates its desire to gain a foothold in the Afghan direction.

Japan has also revived political contacts with Afghanistan. Charge d'affaires a.i. of Japan in Afghanistan, K. Komano, was sent to Kabul, where he met with the head of the Interim Administration, Hamid Karzai, and extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of Japan, Dz. Koizumi to visit Afghanistan. Currently, Tokyo is considering the possibility of Japanese Foreign Minister Ye. Kawaguchi's trip to Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, Tokyo hopes to score points to strengthen its image as a major international player and implement long-term commercial projects, primarily in the field of mining and use of minerals.


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N. NIKOLAEV, JAPAN - AFGHANISTAN: FRIENDLY ENGAGEMENT OR A GEOPOLITICAL GAME? // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 04.04.2024. URL: https://elib.jp/m/articles/view/JAPAN-AFGHANISTAN-FRIENDLY-ENGAGEMENT-OR-A-GEOPOLITICAL-GAME (date of access: 13.07.2024).

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